Novak Djokovic is in a race against time to solve Australian Open drama

Novak Djokovic will open his Australian Open bid on Monday or Tuesday. If he isn’t deported first.

Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke canceled the tennis star’s visa on Friday, resulting in Djokovic obtaining an emergency injunction to stay in the country. A federal judge ordered that Djokovic not be removed prior to his appeal being heard.

According to news.com.au, a final hearing is expected on Sunday, and Djokovic’s legal team has argued for the matter to stay in Federal Circuit Court to resolve it as fast as possible. 

“I don’t wish to be critical,” Djokovivic’s lawyer, Nicholas Wood, sad. “The position we find ourselves in today is the product of being given reasons for decision material shortly after 6 p.m. on a Friday, more than four days after the decision was made. We are where we are because of the time the minister has taken. We are moving as fast as we possibly can.”

Novak Djokovic practicing at Melbourne Park before his visa was canceled.
REUTERS

Djokovic, who is believed to be unvaccinated, was originally detained at the border before being released when his visa cancellation was overturned. But Hawke exercised his personal power to cancel Djokovic’s visa anyway.

Whether the Serb will be allowed to stay in Australia has become a question overshadowing the tournament itself. If able to stay, Djokovic will vie for his 21st major, which would break the record held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Australia has had some of the world’s strictest lockdown rules, and visitors to the country must be vaccinated or meet a legitimate medical exemption. Djokovic has argued that, because he had COVID in mid-December, he meets that status.

Novak Djokovic during a practice session on Jan. 14, 2022.
Novak Djokovic during a practice session on Jan. 14, 2022.
EPA

Now, though, it’s a matter of whether legal proceedings can happen fast enough for Djokovic to play, should he win in court. Djokovic, the No. 1 seed in the draw, is currently scheduled to play fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

Wood reportedly estimated that each side could make arguments in under an hour, and wanted things decided by Monday night.

“In those circumstances, we’re very concerned about time,” Wood said.

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